Russia "Withdrawing" From Syria?

March 15, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) Russia spent only 1/50th of its annual defense budget during its ops in Syria - that is based on the most upward estimates of what would be the annual costs and Russia has only been in Syria for 5 months. Its defense export agency, Rosoboronexport, brought in 15 times the amount of money estimated to have been spent on Syria in 2015, and expects to bring in a similar amount in 2016.

Despite claims - or perhaps hopes - that Russia's latest move was predicated on financial woes, it is much more likely it is a grand gesture of deescalation in Syria amid a ceasefire and ahead of negotiations.

It no longer needs the same amount of forces in the country as it did when the intervention began, because when it began, the battlefield looked very differently than it does now. The Syrian Arab Army is now in full control of the conflict and requires minimum support to complete what was started late last year.

Russia will be keeping enough assets in the region to support the Syrian Arab Army at any time they need it, but is making a geopolitical/diplomatic power move that will force the West to either make concessions toward deescalation themselves, or further expose their role in perpetuating the conflict.